For the Week Ending April 21, 2017
April 21, 2017
NPPC URGING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO WITHDRAW ‘GIPSA’ RULE
Starting next week – after former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture – NPPC will begin a concerted effort to get the Trump administration to withdraw the Obama-era Farmer Fair Practices Rules related to the buying and selling of livestock. Written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), it includes two proposed regulations and an interim final rule, the latter of which now is set to become effective Oct. 19. A new proposed GIPSA rule will determine what USDA should do with the interim final rule; it has a 60-day period – from April 12 to June 12 – for the public to submit comments on whether the agency should: allow the interim final rule to become effective, suspend it indefinitely, delay its effective date or withdraw the regulation. The interim final rule would broaden the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) of 1921 related to using “unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive practices” and to giving “undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages.” Specifically, the regulation would deem such actions per se violations of federal law even if they didn’t harm competition or cause competitive injury, prerequisites for winning PSA cases. The federal appeals courts in eight of the circuits have held that harm to competition must be an element of a PSA case. NPPC has argued that the interim final rule would prompt an explosion in PSA lawsuits by turning every contract dispute into a federal case subject to triple damages and that the inevitable costs associated with that legal uncertainty could lead to further vertical integration of the pork industry, driving packers to own more of their own hogs. To submit comments, urging USDA to withdraw the GIPSA interim final rule, click here.
USDA URGING FARMERS TO PARTICIPATE IN 2017 AGRICULTURE CENSUS
America’s farmers and ranchers soon will be able to take part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them. It will be mailed at the end of this year. The census highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other topics. Producers who are new to farming or did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 census report form by clicking here before the end of June. NASS defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture and to see how census data are used, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540.
SECOND SENATE FARM BILL FIELD HEARING SCHEDULED
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry will hold its second Farm Bill field hearing May 6 in Frankenmuth, Mich. The current Farm Bill expires in September 2018. In addition to research funding related to pork production and maintaining programs for conservation and export promotion, NPPC is urging congressional lawmakers to include in the next Farm Bill language establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank.
SENATE CONFIRMATION VOTE SET ON NEW AGRICULTURE SECRETARY
The Senate is expected to vote April 24 to confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture. NPPC strongly supports Perdue to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has urged the Senate to quickly confirm him.